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  1. #1
    cooltouch's Avatar
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    Nikon F3 or FE2 -- which would you choose?

    I've been thinking about this lately. I own an F2 with DE-1 non-metered eyelevel prism. I've owned it for twenty years, and it's never missed a lick. I used to own an F3HP and have used FEs and FE2s before.

    So anyway, I got to thinking that it would be nice to own once again a Nikon with a decent exposure meter, and maybe even an auto exposure mode. I can recall when I first bought my F3HP, I was somewhat leary about using it in aperture-priority mode, especially when shooting slides. But I was pleasantly surprised -- it always did a good job, exposure wise. And the FEs and FE2s I've used worked well in that regard as well.

    But as I continued to think about this, I found that I've gotten stuck as to which would be the better camera for my purposes. I'm just an amateur, so I don't require the F3's ruggedness, and I don't really need its finder interchangeability either -- I already have that with my F2.

    Both the F3 and the FE2 have TTL flash metering, motor options, and interchangeable focusing screens. The FE2, while perhaps not as robust as the F3, has a 1/250 flash sync and a top speed of 1/4000. The F3's is 1/80 and 1/2000 respectively, but it has an 80/20 metering pattern as opposed to the FE2's more traditional 60/40. And I prefer a tight metering pattern.

    One big difference: the F3 can handle non-AI lenses, while the FE2 can't. But I have only one lens -- an old 55mm f/3.5 Micro -- that isn't AI or AI'd. So even that's not such a big deal.

    Plus, just to make things more difficult, they both seem to sell for roughly the same price, when checking out places like fleabay and KEH.

    Right now, I'm leaning toward the F3, mostly because of its 80/20 metering pattern, but I gotta admit that I really like the FE2's match-needle metering method.

    So, I thought I'd toss this question out to members here because I'm thinking that you may have preferences and/or insights that haven't occurred to me yet, that could end up factoring into my purchasing decision.

  2. #2

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    It's tough question. I remember that when the F3 came out; we all kept on using the F2. It took years for the F3 to assert itself. Nikon was so worried that they upped the price of an F2 for a while. Eventually we all came to like the F3. I have to admit the F3 is a great camera, but many times I shoot with the F2

  3. #3
    fotch's Avatar
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    I have a FE which is not the same camera you trying to compare to however, in comparing to my F3HP and F3, my favorite is either F3. I like the FE, just that the F3 feels better or more comfortable to me. I also use mirror lock up although not all the time. I purchase the FE as a back up and like it for that.
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  4. #4
    Leighgion's Avatar
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    If it were me... FE2, no question.

    I'm not the most gentle with my gear and my FE2 has never given me a reason to doubt it ability to take the knocks and bumps I put it through. Greater durability is nice and all, but if I don't need to pay for it with increased bulk, I see no reason to. The FE2 is a good size for me; solid in the hand, but not a chore to carry.

    While I don't use a flash too often on my FE2, being stuck at 1/80th sync would make me gnaw my arm off. Sync speed that slow basically traps you at a "well, at least the flash works" level. Virtually no upward flexibility, especially if you ever want to do daylight fill.

  5. #5
    SchwinnParamount's Avatar
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    I have both an FE2 and an F3. I love both cameras but if I had to give one of them up, it would be the FE2. There are simply more and better features on the F3. It doesn't hurt that the F3 is built like a tank. Finally, and I know this is illogical... but I love the sound of the F3 shutter. It's quieter and smoother.

  6. #6
    msage's Avatar
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    I would keep the F2, my favorite 35mm camera. I don't use built in meters much. But I am not you so go for the F3. Great camera.
    Michael

    "I only wanted Uncle Vern standing by his new car (a Hudson) on a clear day. I got him and the car. I also got a bit of Aunt Mary's laundry, and Beau Jack, the dog, peeing on a fence, and a row of potted tuberous begonias on the porch and 78 trees and a million pebbles in the driveway and more. It's a generous medium, photography." -- Lee Friedlander

  7. #7
    RMP-NikonPro's Avatar
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    Get a FM3a! better than both!!
    Nikon user

    "Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing" Optimus Prime

  8. #8
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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    I have both the F3HP (two bodies) and an FE2, all bought new and all worked quite hard.

    In a nutshell, the F3 is so smooth to use that when I do use the FE2, it's like driving a very old car.

    That said, the match needle metering for very quick over and under exposing, is brilliant on the FE2.

    But the winder on the F3 is so silky smooth by comparison.

    If size is an issue the FE2 certainly is smaller and lighter, however I also like to see 100% of the viewfinder, it loses on this point.

    With the price of the F3 bodies so low, I would go for one of them. Plus the accessories if you need some, are limitless, and accessories for the F3 are around in greater numbers compared to any other Nikon body.

    Shed loads of waist level finders, sports/action finders, 6x magnifying finders and the biggest array of viewfinder screens available.

    Either will work well, it's mainly a personal choice.

    Mick.

  9. #9
    cooltouch's Avatar
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    Thanks for the insights, guys. Msage, I have no plans to sell my F2

    Sorry, no FM3a in my immediate future -- not when I can buy a clean F3 AND FE2 for the price of one of those puppies.

    I too agree that a couple of the attractive things about the F3 are more sensory in nature -- the silky-smooth film wind, the way it rests in ones hand. And yeah, the MD4 has the MD12 beat hands down. Not that much heavier, but almost twice as fast -- although I seldom ever use a motor for rapid shot sequences.

    I'm also not bothered by bulk. For years, I toted around two Canon F-1s with Motor Drive MFs attached, plus a bag full of FD glass. My F2's MD-2/MB2 is actually smaller and a bit lighter than those old monsters were. I actually prefer the added mass because I've found that my exposures are less susceptible to jitter-induced shake. But an FE2 with MD12 has a bit of heft to it, probably enough.

    Good points about the F3's wide array of accessories and MLU. I have MLU with my F2 though, plus I own three different finders and a selection of focusing screens for that camera. But I really like the FE2's match-needle metering. And yes, I find I actually do a fair amount of fill flash, so it would be nice to be able to use the 1/250 flash sync.

    Grrr . . .

    I think the eventual solution is that I will wind up getting both. Best of both worlds and all. I'm still tempted to get the F3 first, though.

  10. #10
    Nikon Collector's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooltouch View Post
    Thanks for the insights, guys. Msage, I have no plans to sell my F2

    Sorry, no FM3a in my immediate future -- not when I can buy a clean F3 AND FE2 for the price of one of those puppies.

    I too agree that a couple of the attractive things about the F3 are more sensory in nature -- the silky-smooth film wind, the way it rests in ones hand. And yeah, the MD4 has the MD12 beat hands down. Not that much heavier, but almost twice as fast -- although I seldom ever use a motor for rapid shot sequences.

    I'm also not bothered by bulk. For years, I toted around two Canon F-1s with Motor Drive MFs attached, plus a bag full of FD glass. My F2's MD-2/MB2 is actually smaller and a bit lighter than those old monsters were. I actually prefer the added mass because I've found that my exposures are less susceptible to jitter-induced shake. But an FE2 with MD12 has a bit of heft to it, probably enough.

    Good points about the F3's wide array of accessories and MLU. I have MLU with my F2 though, plus I own three different finders and a selection of focusing screens for that camera. But I really like the FE2's match-needle metering. And yes, I find I actually do a fair amount of fill flash, so it would be nice to be able to use the 1/250 flash sync.

    Grrr . . .

    I think the eventual solution is that I will wind up getting both. Best of both worlds and all. I'm still tempted to get the F3 first, though.
    BOTH! Now you're talking!

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